Being in sync with the nose and sweep of every turquoise turn the waves take gives the surfer power, gives them grace to ride the wave that speaks to them, that beckons them to surf another day. The relationship between the ocean and that of a surfer is idyllically reminiscent of the give and take we share with life.
We approach the wave with much respect for its power, its sheer ability to crush, to redirect and move us to and fro having tasted a generous helping of defeat and various forms of wiping out.
Laird Hamilton, a legend for the integrity he has brought and continues to bring to the sport, revealing the honest relationship we should strive to have with the sea, says it plainly: “When you make a mistake, the ocean gives you an instant reminder. You get punished. If golf clubs could shock you every time you hit the ball wrong, we’d probably learn how to play golf pretty well.”
Mr. Hamilton nails it. With every mistake we make on the water, we learn to re-evaluate, re-frame our approach to the oceanic stage. Listening to the waves and making the proper adjustments when they come sets us up for cleaner breaks and sleeker speed, essentially giving more to the sport we love. In return, this gives more to ourselves. Carefully, we move. We adjust and acutely correct our relationship with the waves given the lessons learned in the water. As for life, we must acutely adjust to elevate our ability to ride high when a wave of opportunity presents itself.
What is it about gliding on waves? Suspended above the water by a mere board, as if to mimic legends walking on water like Jesus did. We have faith as we tread upon our humble capabilities to dance along the blue. But who is man to command even the winds and waves to obey him? Many surfers do.
With respect for a might beyond our humanity, a finesse that gives strength and style to it, our brief brushes with a higher reality where sea is subdued by man, where surfers grin at the possibility of getting swallowed whole by a glass, watery capsule, we surf. Who are we to be so brave? To face the elements seemingly and completely beyond our control. Who are we to make God’s ocean a vast playground for sea glass fun and quick cutbacks?
We are, what they call, surfers. And, as such, we contend with forces out of our control, out of our mortal jurisdiction; with a grace and humility that respects the great giants the sea produces and yet a fearlessness that puts us front and center in a dead heat with not another wave chaser but with life.
Life, in its purest state, brings the waves of triumph and defeat, just as the ocean brings each swell whether the crest is high or low. You face each wave, never knowing its direction or exact timing, with an air of ease and patience knowing simply, “If I just wait it out a bit longer, the swell built for my riding style will come beckoning me to ride and conquer.” It will speak to us unlike other waves, proving that the wait was well worth it. Feeling and knowing the rhythm of the ocean, whatever waves form before us, is essential for the ride. Patience, much like in life, accompanies us as we wade in the water, feeling the blanket of the healing seas. Just our board, our thoughts and the waves. As we wait, we don’t look behind us, wondering if we could have caught the swells that have passed. We look onward knowing the right wave, the sublime wave, will come.
Once again, Laird puts it in clear perspective: “Surfing’s one of the few sports that you look ahead to see what’s behind.” In other words, never look back. Even to gather insight on what has passed us, we look forward. As surfers, we learn the uncanny ability to never mind the peaks we missed or waves that have passed. We know that they weren’t for us and, in fact, the better ones are to come.
The mind of a surfer is such that it peaceably rests on the here and now, doesn’t waste a moment dwelling on what has passed, and learns intently from the mistakes made. We forge onward with an optimism and faith that our chance to ride the glass wall of aquatic gems always comes, impressing any rider with more sessions on the sea.
We are surfers and our chance to dance along the water gives us a renewed sense of self, endowing us with the gift of patience required for saving hot pursuits for the perfect swells – swells made just for us and formed for our speed. We are the generation built for the great waves to come, whether difficult or challenging, to ride and to conquer as they peak whether in life or along the sea.